Against the imposing backdrop of South Head, white sails dance. The sun is still setting, but this elegant, coastal space is full. The crowd tonight is mostly successful tradies and their ladies, sporting healthy tans and the odd tattoo. Precious few have journeyed across the harbour – a shame because Jonathan Barthelmess is turning out excellent food. It’s a little pricy, but it’s hard to quibble as you drink in the view with a refreshing Sgroppino ($17) with house-made lemon sorbet and lovely Prosecco in hand. The other cocktail is a Clover Club ($19) with old Tom gin, raspberries, sugar syrup, lemon juice and a hint of egg white.
Expect pared back elegance on the plate – from a funky salad of Crisp Pig’s Tail with Toasted Bread and Mushrooms ($24);
...to a rich, signature Pepper Risotto ($22/$26) dotted with Taleggio;
...to the crisp, porky pleasure of the Roast Suckling Pig ($44).
You must include the light pillows of Ricotta Gnocchi ($24) served in a restrained mixture of burnt butter, olive and purslane that whispers: ‘mop me up with bread’.
You'll also need some sides (this is where it all starts to add up) - we chose Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic ($12)...
...and Asparagus with Parmesan and Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($12). (Apologies for photo quality, my camera had an 'operator fail'.)
The battalion of staff lead by Graham Taylor have evolved a warm style of service that suits the space, illustrated wonderfully by Jessica. The memory of sommelier Michael Watt lingers on in the epic wine list and the mood appropriate sixties Jamaican Ska tunes.
Stuffed from the combination of roasted suckling pig, risotto and gnocchi, we could only share a Blood Orange ($14) medley with sorbet, curd and jelly.
Wait around for the house-made petit fours though, they're great - on the evening I dined it was soft gooey pillows of rose marshmallow, crunchy little cocoa dipped hazelnuts and the crowning glory - sour lemon gummies. This restaurant is definitely the total package, and would complete a nice day in Manly - if you have the time, take the ferry over!
West Esplanade, Manly Cove
Ph: (02) 9949 9011 www.manlypavilion.com.au